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Positive Attitude in the Workplace

It’s Difficult to be Creative When you Feel Stale

Do you feel fresh or stale at work? “Positive Attitude in the Workplace” is the fifth article in our series on improving motivation at work. The first article: In Search of Optimum Performance, introduces the series. If you haven’t read this article yet then it may be a good place to start.

Management is essentially a balancing act and the first article introduces a model which can help you to achieve optimum performance.
The model is based on six common management problem areas:

  1. Ease of work
  2. View of workload
  3. Amount of discretionary time
  4. Energy to tackle work
  5. Ability to be creative
  6. Getting the right things done

Positive Attitude in the Workplace

How do you maintain a positive attitude in the workplace? It’s very difficult to be creative when you feel stale. A factor we’ve already discussed in this series is creativity.

To be creative often requires space and time. However, feeling you’re overloaded and stretched in what you do, or that you don’t have much discretionary time, will impact significantly on your ability to be creative. (See our article on the key leadership concept of valuing ideas. This is a great leadership story about the importance of giving people time and space.)

Whilst better management of time and space in your workload may help, creativity is also heightened by a positive attitude in the workplace.

The key to a positive attitude in the workplace? Take a step back

If you think that you may be starting to feel stale in what you do, then perhaps it’s time to take a step back and remind yourself of why you’re doing what you do. Our attitude to work and life is largely our own business so there is much about our own happiness that we can control. Try applying the following to your work:

  • Re-frame – Even if you can’t spend all of your time doing the specific aspects of your job that bring you the most happiness, try to adopt a positive attitude in the workplace to everything you do. Try to “re-frame” how you feel about your work.
  • Rekindle – Did you once love what you do? Try to rekindle the fire! Remember what it was that you once enjoyed and make a conscious effort to feel that way again. Are you doing less of what you really enjoy, less than when you were happier?
  • New challenge? Is it time for a fresh challenge?
  • Appreciate what you have – Think about the good things in your day – routines, surprises, relationships, small rewards. Focus on these positives, rather than the negatives that make you unhappy. Appreciate what you already have.
  • Do something new for your customers – Think about the overall contribution your organisation makes to its customers or to society in general. Focus on your own input to this contribution. Is there something new you can do for your customers?
  • Think the best about work – Try to consciously think the best about your work, rather than the worst. Positive thinking, looking for the best in people or situations, can work wonders if you just give it a try.

The Most Powerful Force in Business?

Creativity is often spurred by a sense of value in what we do. So to create the conditions for improved creativity try thinking again about the importance of what you do. Fristly, try to find or foster a passion in whatever it is you do for a living.

One way to think differently about our attitude to work is expressed provocatively by Yahoo senior executive Tim Sanders. He asserts that the most powerful force in business isn’t greed, fear, or even raw energy: it’s love. This is what will give you a sense of meaning and satisfaction in your work. He argues that now, more than ever, the road to prosperity is paved with a commitment to generosity. Sanders observes:

“Business people who are the busiest, the happiest, and the most prosperous are the ones who are the most generous with their knowledge and their expertise. People who love what they’re doing, who love to learn new things, to meet new people, and to share what and whom they know with others: these are the people who wind up creating the new economic value and, as a result, moving their companies forward.”

Look at the Optimum Performance Graph below. If you are on the wrong side of the graph, what actions could you to take to move from stale to fresh? Think about how you can create the conditions for a positive attitude in the workplace. Try to keep a freshness to what you do and give yourself a creative edge.


Job Burn Out

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